A cold front finally reached northern Spain, bringing winter weather with frost and some snow, putting an end to mud but making movement in the mountains more difficult. The south meanwhile remained mired in rain and mud. After a build-up that had lasted through most of January, the long-awaited all-out attack on Madrid finally got off to a thunderous start. Supported by aircraft, combat engineers, and heavy artillery (including Italian siege guns newly brought in through Bilbao) a concentric assault penetrated into the city proper. The western precincts, including the Royal Palace, University City, and the more prosperous residential areas were overrun. However, the Loyalists are still ensconsed in the larger eastern part that houses most of the capital’s industry. The Loyalists lost a substantial number of prisoners. Nationalist casualties were light. In southern Castilla the Nationalists closed on the People’s Army’s new positions, but did not attack. North of Lorca, the Argos valley salient held by Anarchist troops was eliminated and many prisoners were taken. In the mountains west of Teruel, Nationalist troops behind the Republican lines continued to make a nuissance of themselves. All other front sectors remained quiet.


Moved by the plight of the defenders of Madrid and angered at the blatant Italian assistance to Franco in men and materiel, France’s left-wing parties rallied and succeeded in persuading the government to open the border with Spain. Immediately, the shipments of field-gun components held up at Perpignan since September were ushered on to factories in Barcelona and Murcia, fighter and bomber aircraft were flown to fields in Republican Spain, and about 500 volunteers for the International Brigades, many of them American, were allowed to pass. This assistance comes in an hour of great need, but may not suffice to turn the tide. Panic spread in Madrid. The government belatedly decided on relocation to Barcelona. The president, his cabinet, and most of the Cortes made their way out at night in small aircraft taking off from cleared city avenues. All but the most important files had to be burned. La Pasionaria remained in the city to rally the shaken defenders. Hastily, new units were formed to beef up the garrison and last supplies were distrubuted to the troops. Demoralized by their government’s flight from the capital, Republican troops did not attack. However, reserves were fed to the front lines in Aragon and at Lorca, and the ring around the isolated Nationalist mountain positions west of Teruel was tightened.


The fall of Madrid seems imminent. The relocation of the government also puts the front of the heartland at risk (defense factors halved in the next Insurgent player turn). However, with most of the Insurgent strength concentrated at Madrid and not enough rail capacity for major troop movements, the effect should be relatively minor.